The former strategist of Bush and Trump: “European leaders do not have a real role and would easily divide”
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
Vladimir Putin «has a wide range of options. The most likely? Slice the Ukrainian territory, occupying the South-East and the city of Odessa ». The role of European leaders? “I’m sorry but I don’t see him. And I’m not even sure they would be united if sanctions were to be imposed on Russia. ” John Bolton, 73, Republican, was Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor from April 9, 2018 to September 10, 2019. On behalf of George W. Bush, however, he represented the United States at the UN from August 2005 to December 2006. He is universally known for his hard line in foreign policy and his frankness.
Will Putin attack Ukraine?
“I don’t think Joe Biden has enough intelligence to answer that question either. Let’s say that Putin has a wide range of possibilities. For example, he could accept the initiative of the Duma (the Russian parliament ed) and annex the Ukrainian Donbass to the Russian Federation; or always intervene in the Donbass, accepting the request of the pro-Russian militias. But it is in full “show game”. And then he could announce the union with Belarus or take some initiative in Georgia … “
Okay, but what is the most likely scenario?
«I am thinking of a raid that would cut Ukrainian territory into slices. Putin could occupy the predominantly Russian-speaking areas and where the Orthodox religion is more widespread. That is to say the eastern portion of the Dnieper River which runs from the Donbass to the border with Belarus. Plus the coasts on the Black Sea, including the city of Odessa. I would like to add that Putin is already making a lot of money with this crisis. Oil costs 90 dollars a barrel and for a certain period it will remain high even if the conflict were to stop ».
Why did Putin take the initiative right now?
«Because he sees a favorable picture. Germany is in a transition phase. Emmanuel Macron faces a difficult election. Boris Johnson has a lot of problems. Italy is grappling with internal political tensions. But above all, he believes he is seeing a weakness in the US administration, due to the way in which it withdrew from Afghanistan. In any case, it’s not that Putin is improvising. This move is part of long-term planning. Of course, if it were a game of chess, we could say that Putin is attempting a “gambit”, a risky opening to achieve his basic objective which is to weaken NATO and call into question the structure of security in Europe ».
Is Biden doing well?
«Let’s say that there is a certain unity of NATO, but I continue to be skeptical that there will be unity if sanctions were to be imposed on Russia. I am concerned about the attitude of Germany, for example. The German line of “strategic ambiguity” does not help to put in place a real deterrence. We saw this when Scholz came to Washington and did not even mention the North Stream 2 pipeline in the press conference. For me it is confirmation that there is no great unity on sanctions. After all, there is the risk that Putin, in retaliation, will close the other gas pipelines, putting various European countries in difficulty. In addition to gas, there is the financial theme. Washington is preparing to exclude Russian banks from the dollar circuit. Will Europeans do the same with the euro circuit? I haven’t heard a clear answer. ‘
Are European leaders able to mediate with Putin?
“With all due respect, I think not. France and Germany gave birth to the Minsk agreements which proved harmful to Ukraine (sovereignty of Kiev over the borders, but large autonomy to the Donbass ed). Furthermore, Putin could leverage Macron to obtain a very dangerous NATO restructuring. Scholz, on the other hand, could guarantee Putin that Ukraine will not join the Atlantic Alliance for a long time. In any case, NATO’s autonomy would be called into question. And I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point the Americans said: do you know what’s new? Next time, defend yourself ».
But should Ukraine join NATO?
“In reality this is a problem that was created by Putin. NATO cannot accept a country that has an open conflict on its territory. All the other reasons: corruption, the weakness of democratic institutions do not count. When the former Warsaw Pact states joined NATO it was not as if they were consolidated democracies. The decision is only and solely political-strategic. Today a false dilemma has arisen over Ukraine: if it enters NATO, it is all right; otherwise he’s in trouble. But the Atlantic Alliance must now take into account a gray area. Finland is not part of NATO, but it is not that if Russia invades it, we do nothing. I don’t know if Putin even considered this ».